“They've learned a valuable lesson. The local and state precinct level is where the real change happens, not at the federal level. So this could be completely nonviolent,” Riggleman told Raw Story in an exclusive interview this week. “In some places you might not even see it. It could be subtle.”
The proud Virginia native rankled his former Jan. 6 committee colleagues with the release of his new book, “The Breach,” in part, because he went public before they released their official final report. In it, the former Air Force Intelligence Officer pulls the veil back on some of the inner workings of the special panel, while also highlighting the dire state of American politics which he argues goes far beyond Jan. 6, 2021.
Riggleman is worried the special committee has devoted too much time and resources looking backward, even as Trump and his devotees have been focused on sowing further distrust in American elections, overhauling local voting laws, and running local election workers who are convinced the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, even as each court that’s reviewed those challenges has found no evidence of widespread fraud.
The former Virginia congressman – who had a front-row seat to the deadly 2018 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville – says the far-right’s transformation was on full display during the Jan. 6 committee’s interview with Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio.
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“I was in his interview. He said that they're going to start fighting from the inside and not the outside, which means politically,” Riggleman said. “What you're seeing is that these groups that were sort of outwardly Western chauvinist or hostile, now inwardly are going to start working at local and state levels. It's an amazing thing.”
While the failed insurrection was allegedly fomented by radical groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys who, along with the former president, convinced thousands of ‘Stop the Steal’ rallygoers to join them in storming the Capitol, since then polls have steadily shown roughly 70% of Republicans now believe Biden stole the election and is an illegitimate president.
That myth has been reinforced legislatively in many red and purple states, including the battlegrounds of Georgia, Arizona, and Florida. Last year alone, 33 new voting laws were enacted across 19 states “that will make it harder for Americans to vote,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice. The change in tactics – ditching tactical gear for election surveillance gear – has helped attract more mainstream Republicans to Trump’s deceit-laden cause.
“On Jan. 6, they wanted to overthrow the election so that he remained in office, so the objective is still the same. And so many groups are now in that same swim lane,” Riggleman said.
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While federal officials are always on guard against cyber intrusion in U.S. elections, Riggleman says Trump’s supporters have largely flown under the radar and the impact could be felt in the next few election cycles.
“Our election system can be manipulated just through rules. Not technology. Rules,” Riggleman said. “You have some slightly different rules in specific precincts in local areas. You have certain governors in certain places. I mean, turn three states in a close election, what happens? Or 20,000 votes swept one way or the other based on new processes or counting or disenfranchising certain people. You never know.”
Last month, Riggleman’s former colleagues on the Jan. 6 committee proposed overhauling the Electoral Count Act so that future presidents can’t look to their vice president to reject the slate of electors submitted by states, as Trump tried to force Mike Pence to do in 2021. The measure passed the House, but Riggleman says it misses the mark.
“We can talk about the Electoral Count Act and things like that, but that's not going to matter if state and local governments are controlled by people who actually believe the election was stolen or that there's a global cabal taking over the United States,” Riggleman told Raw Story. “Those are things that you can't really get at in these hearings. It's just very difficult.”
This is part 1 in a 3-part series based on our exclusive interview with former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman who served as an adviser to the Jan. 6 committee.
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